Tag Archives: seniors and technology

From Foxtrot to Technobot


1396493416Calling me names: Someone recently called me a technobot. In my crusty rusty years, I’ve been called worse. I certainly do love to embrace (or downright cuddle and spoon) new technology innovations with the anticipation and thrill of a teenage kiss. You may have read about these developing passions of mine in my 50 Shades of Mac  post. But back to the business at hand.

What’s up? A couple of years ago I learned how to email money to and from my bank account. The thought of my hard-earned dollars whizzing through cyberspace at warp speed, sent me reeling with the sheer magic of it all. Oh the wonders and conveniences of this brave new world. To think that in my early childhood years I actually lived without electricity or telephones. Hell, my first school bus consisted of two horses pulling a boxy cabin on wheels, while we sat on the benches that lined the interior of the windowless walls. But I digress.

old-telephone-clipartvintagefeedsacks-free-vintage-clip-art-vintage-telephone-old-zjobn5vtA school holiday was declared when electricity finally found its way into our town. Life was simple…and then it all changed. The gaslights were turned off one by one, as the telephones started to ring and television sets introduced us to I Love Lucy.

The year was 1952 in small town Ontario.

So what’s the big deal? Well…now I can actually deposit a cheque to my bank account from my home, using my iPhone! I simply take a picture of the front and back of the cheque, and voila! It’s deposited to my account, while I sit at my kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee! I always feel quite light-headed from the dizzying experience. 1368299830917888001apple-iphone-icon-hi

Don’t judge me yet: Okay, I can hear you thinking…this poor woman has no life, to get so excited about such a silly unimportant thing. Whoa…hold on there Nellie! Yes I admit, new technology turns my crank, juices my engines and puts newfound energy into my yoga pants. And at my age, that’s got to be worth something! But it’s much more than that to me.

The meaning of life: This experience means that as I progress into the scary world of aging, I am learning how to embrace change and enjoy it. It means I can stay current and talk about these innovations with my family, and be connected to their world. In a more tangible sense, it means I can stay home to do my banking, instead of venturing out in the cold and snow. And in some small way, it helps me feel relevant in this rapidly changing world.

Stay tuned: So many seniors I meet are computer savvy. But just as many are not, and resist any suggestion of getting on board. As we age, our worlds often become smaller and smaller, due to illness, physical limitations, financial situations or family circumstance. Just think of the endless possibilities of entertainment, education and communication, if we stay tuned-in instead of tuned-out. The wonders of the Internet connects us with the universe, right from the comfort of our recliners.

Luv U2: I’m sure there are thousands of children and grandchildren out there, dying to give their grandparents a tablet (computer not medical) so they can stay in touch through Facebook, email and texting. And it’s never too late to learn. On the contrary, it’s exactly the right time. How can I put a value on the simple texts I get from my granddaughter to say goodnight, or to tell me she loves me? Phone calls are out with these kids…texting is in.

True colours: I’ve come a long way from living with gas-powered washing machines, wood stoves and hand-cranked record players for learning the foxtrot. In my sepia drenched memories, those days seem like they were a part of a kinder, gentler life. But as a child with those memories, I didn’t have to haul the water, chop the wood, or wrestle the frozen sheets off the clothesline. And I also didn’t have to trudge through the snow, all the way to the only telephone in town, when the doctor called my mother from the city about my Dad’s serious condition in hospital. Just imagine the number of changes in my very short lifetime. From sepia to living colour.

She who laughs: So scoff at me if you will, as I languish in my senior moments of pure cyber-bliss. But you might think of me the next time you stand in line at the bank, or walk across an icy parking lot to deposit your cheques at an ATM. I’ll be at home sipping coffee in my jammies doing the same thing…using my I-Phone. Try it…it’s nothing short of amazing! And we cottonheads need to be amazed now and then. Smoothes out the wrinkly bits.

See you between the lines,

Pat Skene


Fit…bit by bit


k15661613Serious condition; Have you ever noticed that many seniors suffer from flat buttocks? It has less to do with sagging gluteus maximus muscles, and more to do with lazy-asset syndrome. I’m not talking about our lagging mutual fund portfolios, although in today’s market they’re probably flatter than our backsides. No, I’m referring to the act of vegetating in our recliners for prolonged periods of time.

Last year I turned 70. I’m in good enough shape for a gal of my vintage years, but some days I feel every one of the 26, 876 days I’ve been on this earth. And as much as it hurts some days when I shake my booty, it hurts even more when I don’t. So I might as well get on with it and keep moving.

Fit…bit: If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know that I’m a technobot. New electronic gadgets really turn my granny-crank. (And this from a little girl who grew up without electricity.) So at Christmas, my lovely daughter gave me a Fitbit – a wearable fitness tracker device. It’s like a 24/7 Uber pedometer, and you wear it like a wristwatch.

So what? Now you might be thinking…why does an aging boomer like me need one of those gadgets? It’s not like I’m at the gym every day sweating into my stretchy spandex, or even give a damn about measuring my BMI. Nor am I looking to develop a six-pack, other than the one I get from the beer store.

And yes, I’m sure the companies peddling these activity trackers have a younger audience in mind. But there’s a whole market of seniors out there who could benefit from wearing one of these devices. Seriously! Stay with me on this…

Senior alert: Retirement is lovely. Not having to go to work is even better. Watching commuters slip-sliding through snowstorms from our warm cozy chairs, coffee in hand, better yet! Been out there, done all that for nearly 40 years! But this aforementioned lazy-asset syndrome can creep up on us and before you know it, there’s a deep indentation in the seats of our recliners as our aging derrières flatten out like pancakes. What’s the cure? We need to get up and MOVE!

Ginny-walking-clipartWalking gunslinger: Strapping on my Fitbit changed everything for me. Suddenly I’m aware of how many steps I actually take in a day. And it tracks my heart beats, the stairs I’ve climbed, the calories I’ve burned and how I sleep at night, just to name a few features of this wickedly excellent contraption.

Simply put, the Fitbit has changed my behaviour:

  • I’m aware of how sedentary I am when I don’t make a conscious effort to MOVE.
  • I’m motivated to park the car further away from my destination to get my steps in.
  • I’m encouraged to get out of the car a few blocks from home and walk, when Hubsey is driving.
  • I’m reminded to keep my heart rate within my max range when exercising.
  • I’m incented to take the stairs instead of the elevator to achieve my daily goals.

Game on: It’s also fun to challenge friends who wear one of these gadgets to help you stay focused. You can cheer or taunt those in your group, which sounds rather hokey but is so much fun. I’m in a group with my daughter, my niece and a friend in B.C. We may not all achieve our goals every day, but we do what we can and support each other in the process.

Each person sets their own step goals. I started at 4000 steps one month ago, and now have reached the 7000 steps a day level. That’s about 5 km a day, or just over 3 miles. Not a lot but enough for me. FYI…the default is set at 10,000 daily steps. But everyone is different with individual limitations and health conditions.

Good vibrations: The big reward when you meet your daily challenge is what I call a Fit-gasm. When I reach my daily step threshold, the Fitbit vibrates on my arm to let me know I have achieved my goal. It’s oddly rewarding to get that sexy jiggle on my wrist and I must say, getting a few Fitgasms every week is a very satisfying feature indeed.

Last word: As a result of all this, I have walked 112 kilometres to date with my Fitbit – which is apparently the same distance as the March of the Penguins – the annual trip emperor penguins make to their breeding grounds. But I digress…I’m hoping my ongoing condition of lazy-asset syndrome will dissipate, allowing the seat cushion on my recliner to retain its shape for many years to come. And who knows, it just might breathe new life into my buttocks as well.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

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i – Lied


I’ve come to terms with my last post,
These i-things have me all engrossed,
My nomophobia is real,
So listen up ’cause here’s the deal…

When I said I was i-Crazy, I was telling the truth. When I said I would try to change, I lied.

What’s up? I’m not sure what I was trying to prove with my last post. It was my birthday, so maybe I wanted to turn back the clock and make my world go back to the way it was…before i-things were around. Heck, I grew up with no electricity or telephone until I was six years old. Life has changed just a tad since then. Now after a bout of reflective noodle-flushing, I’m here to tell you i-lied. I’m i-crazy and proud of it, so get over it.

Why lie? Well I didn’t know I was lying when I said I was going to wean myself off the i-stuff in my life. After I wrote my i-Crazy post and went through the aforementioned noodle-flush, I realized that this new age is my life; this life filled with techno-conveniences and instant communication options. So instead of a 12 step program for drying out – here are my reasons for staying the course and enjoying my addiction. 

Top 10 Reasons I’m i-Crazy

1. Living with lupus has its challenges. On my bad days, staying in touch with family and friends with one of my i-things from the comfort of a stack of pillows is priceless. There’s something weird and wonderful about emailing and blogging  from my bed. No Skyping: make-up and hair brushes not required. Bathing optional.

2. Swimming with my waterproof i-Pod  helps me stay in shape. Yes it’s a special waterproof model! As a new condo dweller, I enjoy the pool so much more when I put in my ear buds and listen to music while I swim. Bonus: you don’t have to waste valuable exercise time nattering with other cotton-heads in the pool.

3. Playing online scrabble on my tablet and smartphone helps to keep my brain from getting too spongy. Plus I get to play and stay connected with friends and family members who live miles away. Warning: highly addictive. Big-point-words provoke dopamine-induced euphoria.

4. Text messaging is the ultimate in new age convenience. I love instant conversations translated into short-form babble-garb. Side effects: the need to hear actual human voices may be drastically reduced over time.

5. Honorable mention for my e-Reader, which lets me purchase and load a new book in minutes without getting off my derriere. Caution: may cause involuntary spreading of the posterior region. When this occurs, discontinue use and jog to the bookstore.   

6. My granddaughter thinks I’m super cool, because I have all these new gadgets and gizmos.  Grandparent advantage: i-things are an excellent resource for helping to make you the alpha grand and beating out the in-law competition.  

7. The i-Phone alarm feature helps with my fading short-term memory. Note: dependency will develop due to a growing need to hear the “Marimba” signal before snapping into action. 

8. My i-Phone camera captures those spontaneous moments, which would be otherwise lost. Downside: all my pictures are floating around somewhere in cyberspace instead of  in photo albums.

9. The Contact List in my phone  is with me all the time. With so many telephone numbers having strange area codes these days, I can’t even remember my daughter’s home number. Blast from the past: things have changed since my first job as a Bell Telephone Operator in the 60’s. Seems like just one ringy-dingy ago…  

 10. I can slouch on the couch and read my i-Pad. Checking the news, weather, sports and the myriad of fabulous blogs out there is a sinful pleasure I enjoy for hours on end. Danger: couch cushions may become dangerous to the elderly, as sinkholes are developed from overuse. 

Final word: There are many “smartphone-tablet-ereader” crazed people  like me out  there. Even we more seasoned citizens love conveniences. We love instant communication and quite simply, we love learning how to use this exciting technology to stay current. Embracing the new while appreciating the old is where I’m at these days. So I guess you can teach a crusty old blogger new tricks after all!           

And in the end, as I suspected,
It’s a wonderful life, when you’re connected,
‘Cause every time an i-thing dings,
A cyber-angel gets his/her wings.

Pat Skene